In correlation with our new pro bono project, I thought it could be good for all of us to keep current with how technology is being utilized in charitable capacities. The New York Times article Technology and Food Yield Choice at Charity covers the story of how a food pantry, in Brooklyn, is using technology to give optimal variety to their patrons.
The Saint John's Bread and Life Center has recently renovated after 26 years of service to its community. Amongst other improvements, starting next Monday food orders will be taken on touch screen computers (using technology from Plexis Point of Sale Software.) Families will essentially be issued gift cards with credit, which is distributed based on need, to use to select their necessities from the pantry's inventory.
This is a novel approach to bringing options to the typical food pantry. I don't know how familiar you all with food pantries but often food is prearranged for families; giving them little, if any, choice in their selection. With little consideration to whether a given family even needs some of the prearranged objects. I had never really thought about how the standard technique was so inconsiderate, but the article mentions that this can be frustrating and somewhat demeaning to the consumers.
It is hoped that using their new method will allow a more typical and dignified shopping experience for its families. They hope that they will not be fighting much of a learning curve based on the assumption that many people are familiar with ATM cards and should be able to navigate a similar system. In addition to the added simplicity and order this will implement for the pantry, the program will promote healthier eating amongst the patrons. A food pyramid will be only a click away for easy reference and the less healthy a product is the more it will cost.